Ninja Theory's Hellblade to tackle mental health, backed by Wellcome Trust

First footage released, historical storyline detailed.

Enslaved and Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory has released the first footage from Hellblade, its mysterious historical adventure coming to PlayStation 4 and PC.


But perhaps more interestingly, Ninja Theory has also detailed Hellblade's story, which focuses on the mental health of main character Senua.

Senua is a Celtic warrior who has been left traumatised after the arrival of Viking invaders.

Her mental state features heavily within the game as she deals with psychosis and has to battle a physical manifestation of her mental illness.

Ninja Theory is tackling the subject with the backing of the Wellcome Trust mental health charity. The team has also worked closely with psychiatrist and University of Cambridge professor of health and neuroscience Paul Fletcher.

"More and more, games have an exciting and innovative role to play in giving us new perspectives on health and mental health challenges," said the Wellcome Trust spokesperson Iain Dodgeon.

"Rather than being a didactic game teaching us about psychosis, Hellblade allows us to explore it through the creation of a compelling and complex character, and the world that she inhabits."

Hellblade is the work of just 15 people, but Ninja Theory has said this small team size was deliberately chosen so that it can fund and develop the project on its own terms.

In the meantime, it's worth remembering that Ninja Theory is also helping to develop Disney Infinity 3.0, which no doubt will help secure its financial future.

"In Hellblade we are pursuing creative independence in order to explore a compelling subject matter and gaming experience that would not be possible under the current retail model," Ninja Theory's creative boss Tameem Antoniades explained.

"In movie terms, this would be a quality independent film, not a Hollywood blockbuster. Digital self-publishing means that we can offer a smaller, but high quality game at around half the price of retail games."

Watch the new trailer and a more in-depth look at the game and its themes below, as well as an exploration of other games that look at mental health:

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.


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